First Baptist Church of Forsyth was established in 1838 as Harmony Baptist Church. Their first home was constructed on this property in 1840. The congregation named was changed to First Baptist Church around 1840, then to First Baptist Church of Forsyth between 1913-1917. The old church building was retired in 1921 and the congregation moved into this structure in 1923. In the interim, services were held in the Bank Stephens Institute and baptisms performed in the swimming pool at Bessie Tift College.
Mt. Zion was organized around 1840 about a mile south of Smarr. The present church was built in 1907.
Though the present building dates to 1893 and is said to be the oldest brick Methodist church standing in Georgia, the congregation is much older, having been established in 1809. Culloden was a detour on the way home after a long trip to Northwest Georgia last weekend, but what a pleasant detour it turned out to be. We met Sarah Ray, who upon seeing us photographing the building, invited us in to see the interior. She’s among the oldest members of the church, though you’d never know it by her infectious spirit and the pride she has in this small congregation. She and here late husband, Eric Lloyd Ray, were active members for many years.
Sarah noted that she had watched the congregation dwindle over the past few decades to the point that only 20 or 30 attend services regularly today, but she remains faithful that the church will continue to be an anchor for the small town. She echoed a sentiment I’ve heard from a dear friend of mine who’s a retired Methodist bishop that the church as a “business” continues to downsize and weed out the smallest congregations as their upkeep has become impractical. We both agreed that that wasn’t the way it should be.
But if every church has someone like Sarah Ray, there will always be hope.
Culloden Historic District, National Register of Historic Places